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What a trial assesses


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I've heard versions of the following, and I think there was one that was a bit more elegantly constructed but I just can't recall it. Does anyone know a variation? And is there something you would want to add?


Outrun is about stamina

Lift is the dog taking stock of the sheep

Fetch is sheep taking stock of the dog

Drive is the handler's control over the dog

Shed is about courage of dog

Pen is about partnership of dog and handler

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I think you'll find lots of different opinions on this but I will say that the outrun is not about stamina. It's about the genetic default of the border collie, to cast about it's sheep with the correct distance (i.e, not disturbing the sheep until the lift) which requires a dog that naturally has a feel for the sheep. The outrun and lift have the highest combined points and a poor start there will set up the rest of the run for failure. The lift is about feel as well, but also about authority and stock sense.


The rest of the run is about partnership and continued feel and stock sense on the part of the dog. In my not expert opinion, the outrun and lift test the genetics of the dog and the rest of the course continues to test the genetics along with the training and handling skills of the handler.

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